Five years ago the thought that Steve Taylor would be making new music was a fever dream. Since then, we got the ferocious comeback Goliath featuring his all-star backing band The Perfect Foil. Between the Kickstarter and the release of that album on vinyl LP, the band hooked up with Daniel Smith, the leader of the psyche-folk-freak-pop Danielson effort. He’s also the head of the Sounds Familyre label (which helped bring Sufjan Stevens to your attention). Goliath was subsequently released under its auspices.
Nobody was really expecting the Foils and Smith to join forces, but here we are with the Wow To The Deadness EP, with production from indie “engineer” deluxe Steve Albini. The result? An EP as roaring as any you’re liable to hear in 2016. The EP format is no stranger to Taylor — his first release back in the earliest of the Eighties, I Want To Be A Clone, immediately marked him as someone willing to try new things and work with unexpected influences. That sponge-like tendency to try it all out and see how it fits is all over this effort, and it works fantastically.
There are caveats. If you’re expecting a ballad anywhere here, you’re not going to get it. This is an EP that is far more in line with Touch and Go Records-styled bombast and fury than Taylor’s more ornate work; no “Comedian” here. Each of the six songs on the mini-album feature Albini’s microphone touches, from the tight, ringy drums from Peter Furler, to Jimmy Abegg’s amp-shredding guitar, to John Mark Painter’s bass pulse. If you are not a fan of that production sound, well, too bad. And Daniel Smith’s voice is not everyone’s cup of tea, but to my ears he actually sounds far more restrained (in a thoroughly unhinged way — see his lead on the track “Drats”) than he tends to on the Danielson or Danielson Familie efforts. I’ve always appreciated what Smith has done, but I totally get why others might not.
I don’t know if this collective would have worked nearly as effectively had this been a full album effort. Six relatively short, and shockingly punk, tunes go down remarkably well — a surprise kick to the shins and exit, stage right. If any of this sounds exciting to you (and I can’t imagine why it shouldn’t), you’ll want to snap up a copy of the Wow To The Deadness EP. It’s a good, old-fashioned kidney punch of “rott’n roll”. Find out more at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SteveTaylorTPF